Microstructural and Rheological Constraints on the Mantle Strength of Strike-Slip Fault Systems: Evidence from the Bogota Peninsula Shear Zone, New Caledonia

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Vasileios Chatzaras1,2, Sarah Titus3, Basil Tikoff1 and Martyn R. Drury2, (1)University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, WI, United States, (2)Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands, (3)Carleton College, Northfield, MN, United States
Crust-mantle coupling along major strike-slip fault zones suggests that these two lithospheric layers act as an integrated system. In such a system, the spatial and temporal evolution of mantle strength across strike-slip shear zones has proven a key component in understanding lithospheric deformation and rheology. The Bogota Peninsula shear zone is exposed in the mantle section of the New Caledonia ophiolite. It contains a unique microstructural and textural record across a 4-km wide mylonitic zone bordered by a wider zone of weaker deformation. The shear zone is interpreted as a paleotransform fault, based on the orientations of fabrics and dikes inside and outside the zone. No ultramylonites or pseudotachylites were observed within the shear zone. Olivine grain size paleopiezometers suggest variation of the shear zone stresses, with the highest values recorded in the center of the shear zone, coincident with increasing olivine CPO strength toward the shear zone center. By estimating the finite strain in the zone, and assuming that all portions of the shear zone were active synchronously, we can correlate the increased stresses to increased strain rates.

We compare the mantle strength in the Bogota Peninsula shear zone to other transform faults, such as the San Andreas fault (SAF) system. The differential stresses in the upper mantle of the SAF system, determined from xenoliths, is similar to those observed in the New Caledonia. Further, the width of shearing deformation in Bogota Peninsula shear zone is similar to that inferred for other transform zones, in both the upper crust and lithospheric mantle. These similarities suggest that viscous flow in the lithospheric mantle is in mechanical communication to brittle deformation in the upper crust. We propose a “Lithospheric Feedback” model, in which displacement due to mantle flow loads the crust during interseismic cycles, while the upper crust effectively limits the strength of the lithosphere.